The Treasure Hunt
It began some time ago.
I located a map of my most desired area and opened it on the screen with a cup of tea and a cookie at my side. I slipped on my reading glasses and bent over the map.
I knew the treasure would be located somewhere between 12th century Lyon and the Forez. It had to be. After all, my last trilogy had played into those areas. Particularly the novel ‘Guillaume.’
The biggest hurdle though, was distance.
The distance between me and those areas. Me in Australia is a long and so very expensive way from France.
But then this is not insurmountable.
I have a wonderful Lyonnais friend who loves adventure and research and gets the same thrill from discoveries as me. He has lived in France for many years, has a wonderful French wife and speaks French as fluently as his neighbours.
Brian Cobb and I ‘met’ a few years ago. And I say ‘met’ with a grin because in truth, we’ve never actually met in real life.
The story goes something like this…
During my writing of The Gisborne Saga, Guy being a 12th century alter-ego of his namesake Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood fame, I became Facebook friends with a number of Richard Armitage fans, one being the inimitable Wendy Dixon.
Richard Armitage is key here because at the time, he was playing Guy of Gisborne in the TV series of Robin Hood and there was a vast fandom. There still is.
Anyway, as we all know, one gains friends from friends on Facebook and in time, I became friendly with Brian Cobb who was a close friend of Wendy’s.
TBH, I can’t remember how Brian became my God-given researcher. Did I ask a question about France in the 12th century on Facebook? Was it the need to find a Templar Commanderie near a certain location?
All I know is that Brian and Yveline selflessly tracked down a potentially suitable Commanderie and sent me information which included video-clips, translations of history and even a small piece of 12th century stone from said Commanderie. The Commanderie was for sale as a private residence at the time and they skilfully inveigled their way into the housekeeper’s confidence and she took them on a tour which of course resulted in my fly-on-the-wall view of interior and exterior.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I finished the Gisborne Saga trilogy…
…and moved on to the trilogy of The Triptych Chronicle of which Guillaume was my ‘French’ novel.
Brian came into his own here, trekking round Lyon, investigating traboules, translating ecclesiastical and temporal histories, questioning professional historians and finding gems of information which set me all aquiver.
We had a novel!!! And I don’t say that lightly.
Eighteen months on from the final in the The Triptych Chronicle (Michael), I’m writing about a nun, a merchant and trouble, in what might be a series. It’s based around Lyon and in the French countryside.
But where is there a 12th century nunnery, with a dubious noble family nearby and within cooee of Lyon? Cooee is perhaps too narrow a margin. Let’s say within a crow’s flight…
Brian examined five or six possible locales for me. And on a trip to Auvergne to hunt for cèpes with friends (he is a gastronome), he and Yveline found a little village called Esteil which had the ruins of a 12th century nunnery. Once again, they have managed to get inside and film delicious views of the chapel itself and sacristy and the extensive old perimeter of the grounds and surrounding countryside.
To add factual fuel to my potential fiction, the Chemin de Compostelle passes 4km from Esteil and the noble family, Drac, have some questionable members involved with the nunnery. The nunnery, Brian’s fact-finding shows, was connected with Fontevrault, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s final resting place. Deep in Angevin country, a little voice said in my head, as Guillaume’s full name was Guillaume of Anjou.
The hairs on my neck stood up, I tell you.
We had another story!!!
Whispers of ‘story’ are now threading through my mind with great frequency. I ‘see’ Soeur Cecile and the merchant, Henri de Montbrison. My imagination is creating an image of le Seigneur de Drac and all the time, there are the grounds of La Prieuré d’Esteil…
…the wonders of the traboule below the house of Gisborne ben Simon in Rue Ducanivet in Lyon, where the River Saône flows like a merchant’s lifeblood, by its side.
And all this glistening and invaluable treasure, let it be said, is because I have a friend called Brian…